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Classroom Strategies for Students With ADHD


Updated November 25, 2013

Classroom Strategies for Students With ADHD

Simple adjustments in the classroom can really benefit a child with ADHD.

Photo © Pam Roth

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often viewed as difficult. Their fidgeting, squirming, and loud behaviors can be very disruptive to the classroom setting. Children with ADHD often seem oppositional when they are not following directions due to their inattention. Their distractibility, blurting out, interrupting others, and getting up and down out of their seats may create frustration for the teacher and other classmates.

Luckily, there are strategies that can be implemented in the classroom to make the day easier for all involved, the student with ADHD, his classmates, and the teacher.

Establish Specific Classroom Rules

Have clear and consistent classroom rules. Set up a reward system. Consistently enforce consequences for behaviors.

Limit Distractions

Try to limit distractions in the classroom. Seat the student near the teacher. Have student keep his desk area cleared except for the work he should be doing at that time. Get rid of clutter in the classroom.

Give Simple Directions

Directions with more than one or two steps may be confusing. Stick with clear one step directions. To make sure student understands directions have him repeat them back.

Adjust School Work

Break down assignments to fit with student’s attention span. Give student extra time to complete work. Write things down for student who may have difficulty copying material from chalk/dry erase board.

Positively Structure the School Day

Preview the school day with a morning class meeting. Work on the most difficult subjects during the early part of the school day when student is more alert.

Allow Student Regular Breaks for Physical Movement

It is difficult for a child with ADHD to sit at the desk for long periods. Schedule in regular breaks during the day. Plan simple errands that allow the student to take papers to the office or return books to another classroom. Plan in regular times when student can walk down the hallway for a sip of water from the water fountain or a trip to the bathroom. These simple breaks will help with focus and to burn off any extra energy.

Focus on Student’s Strengths

Provide lots of positive reinforcement and praise. Reward effort.

Keep Lines of Communication Open with Parent

Set up a system to communicate with parent. Send a quick email. Touch base by phone or note. The better the communication is between school and home, the better chance the student will have for success.

Related Reading:


ADHD: A Complete and Authoritative Guide (American Academy of Pediatrics 2004)

Russell A. Barkley, PhD Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents (Guildford Press 2005)

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